Shot in just six days over Halloween 2021, the trailer for Hitchcock-inspired CASTING KILL was released on 28th October 2022, exactly one year to the day filming commenced with the aim of offering a different take on the horror genre, and with a nod to Old Hollywood glamour.
Casting Kill is a part satire, part suspense thriller. The story follows serial killer Arthur Capstone who holds bogus auditions during his sinister ‘casting roadshow’. The film broaches a number of contemporary themes about the movie business and could make for uncomfortable viewing, not only for Hollywood producers, but also for those involved in the UK film industry, which certainly isn’t devoid of controversy, favouritism, and perhaps even corruption. Indeed, much of Capstone’s rhetoric is derived from industry seminars and presentations attended by director James Smith and producer/screenwriter Caroline Spence, at various film festivals over recent years.
Casting Kill explores the extreme side of film industry corruption set within the horror-genre. “I was intrigued by the subject matter,” explains James Smith, “since filmmakers at all levels cannot fail to acknowledge and somehow address the aching problems that face an industry which is supposedly glamorous, and yet laced with reality: where there is money and power, evil is not far away.”
This film might seemingly play out as the straight portrayal of a psychopath with ‘mom issues’, but there is more depth to the sinister tale than this. His rhetoric is well-rehearsed, comforting, music to the ears of naive auditionees, and much akin to the corporate spiel of industry movers and shakers, all feverishly keen to signal good intent and thus garner support for their cause.
In this sense, Capstone is perhaps even a personification of the industry itself, a business within which dreams are offered with caveats and preconditions as defined by gatekeepers and so-called talent scouts.
The satirical nature of the film may draw some parallels to American Psycho – crass materialism and a yearning for yuppie status – however, James was keen for the focus to remain on the movie business, the people and their motivations. Being seen to be virtuous and inclusive is everything, but who can you believe?
James continues, “Despite its nod to yesteryear, I wanted to make Casting Kill a talking point about today’s industry – with what we know of past crimes, who are we now prepared to trust? To preserve the integrity of the subject matter, some of which may be perceived as divisive, certainly controversial, I wanted to make this a truly independent project.”
With its unusual take on horror, Casting Kill is no slasher or gore fest and, like many of Alfred Hitchcock’s most renowned productions, is a collaborative project between UK filmmakers and an American composer, in this case, Shaun Finnegan from New York.
Casting Kill is the fifth feature film from Raya Films and will enjoy its World Premiere at the Horror-On-Sea Film Festival in Southend-on-Sea City (near London, UK) on 15th January 2023.
Further screenings are planned in the USA with details to follow when confirmed.
Directed by James Smith and produced by Caroline Spence.
Raya Films: www.rayafilms.com/castingkill
Photos by Brendan Walker
Poster design by Sean Strong
James Smith, director and writer of article is pictured in second image.
Note: Images are Behind The Scenes shots of Casting Kill